Saturday, September 27, 2008

And now we start to discover who really is good.

East Carolina - Well it was nice while it lasted. Stick with playing those ranked "big 6" schools. They are obviously much easier to handle the 'lowly' conference USA teams.

Georgia - The Alabama loss was much closer than the final score. (It was 31-0 at the half). And this was in Georgia! There was justification in their gradual fall.

Florida - A narrow loss. These guys will always be ranked high, no matter how good they are. But, they have shown a weakness.

Oklahoma - They have dominated everyone they've played, but they've been playing mostly cupcakes. TCU has won in Norman before, and is the first serious challenge for the Sooners. (Of course they have to go out of the 'big 6' to find one a challenge.) That they were able to dominate shows that they are worthy of a high ranking.

USC - Lost to Oregon State in Corvallis. Yes its bad, but not that bad. (They have a nasty history of losing there.) Maybe the Pac-10 isn't so bad after all.

Cal - The pac-10 finally beat a Mountain West School. And Cal's lone loss at Maryland is not looking so bad after all. (we'll still call it jet lag.)

Oregon - It's great to have Washington State on your schedule after Boise State

UCLA - It's not so great to have Fresno State on your schedule.

With Wake Forest and Clemson both losing, the ACC is pretty much shut out of the top 25 (though Maryland should bubble up) This means an 'outsider' would only need to crack the top-16 BCS standings to make a big bowl. Boise, Utah, and BYU are all in good condition to do it. Fresno and TCU may even have an outside chance. (If TCU manages to beat BYU and Utah, its road loss at Oklahoma may not be so bad. Fresno may have a tougher time, with its weaker schedule, with the next big test not until the season ending showdown with Boise State. The BYU-Utah and Boise State-Fresno State games could be big. If Utah and BYU get past TCU and the rest of the mountain west, they could easily be top-10 behemoths battling it out - potentially even top 2)

It would be nice if the conferences grouped together to schedule there games. Then pac10, big12, WAC and MWC could arrange a sort of 'promotion/demotion' structure like in international soccer. The best teams in the 4 conferences would bubble up to play more of each other, while the worst would fall down to play each other more. Idaho and Washington State, in addition to being close by, are also equally mediocre. It would be more entertaining to see Oregon, Cal, and USC take on the likes of BYU and Boise, than make regulat blowout trips.

Friday, September 26, 2008

USC's loss - good for the PAC-10

The Pac-10 has completed most of their non-conference football schedule intact. A .500 winning percentage is not all that bad - especially when you consider they were playing real competition, as opposed to the I-AA home fluff the certain southern conferences like to play.

With only USC currently ranked, there is not a lot of chance that another team would make it to a BCS bowl, so the best shot at a big money postseason would be for a lot of teams to play in bowls. Six wins are needed for bowls. With an even nonconference won-loss mark, all it would take is a balanced conference schedule and everyone could end up 6-6 and play in bowls.

There are also a few nonconference games remaining:
Oregon State at Utah
Washington at Notre Dame
Washington State at Hawaii
UCLA at Fresno State
Notre Dame at USC
Stanford at Notre Dame
Colorado State at Cal

None of the games look like a sure thing in either direction. However, Utah will probably beat Oregon State (The Beavers have done great at home, but miserable on the road.) USC will probably beat Note Dame. Cal should beat Colorado State. Stanford and Washington at Notre Dame could be difficult to predict. We'll give it a split. UCLA is on a miserable streak, and will probably continue that against Fresno. Hawaii is nothing like they were last year, and will probably lose to Washington State. That would leave the pac-10 up a game for nonconference (with Washington state playing an extra game.) So, there still is a possibility that everyone qualifies for a bowl.

However, a more likely scenario would see the Washington schools continue to stink it up, with UCLA still feeding at the bottom. Cal and Oregon are really not in that bad a position. Oregon's lone loss is to Boise State. That Boise State team that has one of the best records over the past 5 years... Oh, and Oregon was playing with the 5th-string quarterback. Boise will likely increase in the rankings, increasing Oregon's BCS rank (and Purdue may have some surprises) If the QBs can stay healthy, Oregon could win 8 or 9 more games, and be in a position for a BCS bowl. Cal also has some could excuses - after all, there lone loss was after a cross country trip to play an early game in Maryland. If they run the table, they should qualify. However, since Oregon, USC and Cal have yet to play each other, one will end up with two loses. (And Cal still has to play a Mountain West team!)

Another scenario has Oregon State winning the remainder of its conference games, and USC winning the rest of its games. USC would probably still rank high enough and have the cachet to be taken as an at-large BCS pick. Oregon State, by virtue of their head-to-head victory over USC would be the conference champ (even if they lose to Utah, they would still be 9-3). Seeing two Pac-10 teams in the big bowls would really irk some of those southern conferences, but so be it.

On to more realistic conditions, the Pac-10 has arrangements with 7 bowls. Can 7 teams make it? USC, Oregon, and Cal should easily qualify. Arizona needs just three more wins. Unfortunately, the competition will be a little tougher than Idaho. If they can beat the 2 Washington schools, and eak out one other win (perhaps Oregon State, or in-state rival ASU), they would be in. ASU has the tough part of its schedule coming up with Cal, Oregon and USC. They would probably need to win at least one of those to keep from getting too demoralized. But even if they lose, they have the Washingtons, UCLA and Arizona.
That would leave Stanford and Oregon State. Stanford can be totally unpredictable. Perhaps a win at USC and loss at Washington? 4 more wins is a possibility. However, that would require winning something on the road. Oregon State may have a tougher time. However, if they continue their string of winning at home, they can do it. (Though it would entail beating Cal, ASU, and Oregon.) They also have a 13 game schedule. (Would that require 7 wins to be eligible?) UCLA? Well, if they find their Tennessee form, they could be back in the picture. Washington? Their schedule is often ranked the toughest in IA football. They could turn things around when they start playing unranked teams. Washinton State? Well they lost to Baylor. I'd give the conference about 70% odds of filling all the spots.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Simple BCS fix

Currently there are 10 slots, champions of 6 conferences get in automatically (regardless of how bad they are), the top 2 get in to the championship game, and one 'non BCS' conference team gets in if it finishes in the top 12 (or top 16 ahead of a BCS conference team.) Then there are the additional rules (Notre Dame gets in if it is in the top 8, number 3 or 4 qualifies automatically if they are from a major conference without being the champion.) And then there are at-large teams who finish in the top-14 of the BCS standings (with at least 9 wins). The final caveat is that only two teams from a conference may be in the BCS.

The language is fairly clear - it is set up to enrich certain conferences at the expense of others. (Why do the rules for BCS #3 and #4 only apply to the 'BCS' conferences? And why are automatic qualifiers limited to one in the non-BCS conferences?) Suppose an SEC team finished 1st, with a MWC team 2nd, a WAC team 3rd and an SEC team 4th. The 4th ranked SEC team would automatically qualify, while the 3rd ranked WAC champion would be out.

For an ultimate BCS-buster, we would need something like:
1. MWC
2. WAC
3. SEC
4. PAC10
5. Big10
6. BigEast
7. ACC
8. Big12
9. Sunbelt
10. MWC
11. WAC
12. MWC
13. CUSA
14. MAC

An oddity of the current language of the selection process, is that the 2nd-ranked WAC team would not necessarily receive an automatic berth (because that is limited to 1 team from non big 6 conferences) However, I cannot see them refusing a number 2. However, if the at-large pool is limited to non-BCS teams, then the hand is pretty much called, and they will have to be taken.

As simpler format, why not eliminate the conference specification from the language. And change automatic qualification to include (in order of precedence)
1) Top 2 teams automatically qualify for the championship game
2) Top 6 ranked conference champions ranked in the top 12 automatically qualify
3) Independents in the top 8 automatically qualify
4) teams ranked 3 or 4 and not automatically qualified

Then for at large include:
1) Conference champions with at least 9 wins that did not automatically qualify
2) Teams ranked in the top 12 that did not automatically qualify

This would remove some of the bias.

The current poll standings could set us up from some interesting bowls
1) USC (pac10)*
2) Oklahoma (big12)*
3) Georgia (sec)*
4) Florida (sec)*
5) LSU (sec)
6) Missouri (big12)
7) Texas (big12)
8) Alabama (sec)
9) Wisconsin (big10)*
10) Texas Tech (big12)
11) BYU (mwc)*
12) Penn State (big10)
13) South Florida (Bigeast)*
14) Ohio State (big10)
15) Auburn (sec)
16) Wake Forest (acc)*
17) Utah (mwc)
18) Kansas (big12)
19) Boise State (wac)
As it currently stands: USC, Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida, Wisconsin, BYU, South Florida and Wake Forest would get automatic bids. One at large bid would go to a big12 team, and one would go to a big 10 team, and all would be fine and dandy in BCS-land

However, some of these teams will likely beat each other up, leaving a potential standing more like:
1) USC (pac10)*
2) Oklahoma (big12)*
3) Georgia (sec)*
4) Florida (sec)*
5) LSU (sec)
6) BYU (mwc)*
7) Texas (big12)
8) Alabama (sec)
9) Wisconsin (big10)*
10) Wake Forest (acc)*
11) Missouri (big12)
12) Auburn (sec)
13) South Florida (Bigeast)*
14) Boise State (wac)
15) Penn State (big10)
16) Texas Tech (big12)
17) Utah (mwc)
18) Kansas (big12)
19) Ohio State (big 10)

USC and Oklahoma would qualify automatically
Georgia, Wake Forest, South Florida and Wisconsin would get in as conference champions
BYU would get in as the 'BCS buster'.
Florida would get in with the K-state rule.
This would leave two at large spots. LSU, Auburn, and Alabama would be out (from SEC)
Texas would probably be in as the top ranked at large team. This would eliminate Missouri from further consideration. Thus Boise State would be the only remaining at large team.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

PAC-10, SEC, and actually playing away games in college football

Last week the pac-10 had what appeared to be a miserable weekend, going 0-4 against the MWC, and losing some other key games. But, at least they tried. Looking at the season so far:

this week:
1-0 bigsky*
1-1 WAC
0-1 SEC

0-1 ACC
0-4 MWC
0-1 BIG12
1-0 WAC
2-0 BIG10

0-1 MWC
0-1 BIG10
1-0 MAC
1-0 WAC

1-0 ACC
1-0 BIG10
1-0 WAC
0-1 BIG12
1-0 Bigsky*
1-0 SEC

Compared to the SEC:
1-0 MAC
2-0 ACC
2-0 Southern*
1-1 WAC
1-0 CUSA
1-0 Sun Belt
1-0 Gateway*
1-0 Big East
0-1 Pac 10

2-0 CUSA
1-1 ACC
1-0 MAC
1-0 Mideast*
1-0 Sunbelt
1-0 Southland*

2-0 CUSA
2-0 Sunbelt
1-0 Southern*
1-0 Independents

Week 4
0-1 ACC
1-0 Southern*

Now lets get tricky, and put some assumptions:
1) All 1A(FBS) teams will beat 1AA (FCS) teams
2) All home teams will win
If we just count road wins and home losses, we get something different:
1) 1-0 MAC
1-0 ACC (nuetral)
1-0 Big east
2) * Sunbelt (La Monroe technical home team in game played in 'neutral' arkansas)
3) none
4) 1-0 Pac10
A total of 4 wins in 4 weeks

1) 1-0 ACC
0-1 Big12 [home game for WSU on other side of state]
2) 0-1 MWC
3) 1-0 Big10
0-1 Big12
0-1 MWC
4) 0-1 WAC
0-1 SEC
2 wins and 6 losses in 4 weeks

And the MWC
1) 1-0 BIG10
0-1 Great west*
2) 1-0 PAC-10
0-1 Big12
3) 1-0 CUSA
1-0 WAC
1-0 PAC10
4) 1-0 CUSA
6 wins and 2 losses in 4 weeks

And the WAC:
2) 0-1 Big12
3) 0-1 MAC
0-1 MWC
0-1 Big10
4) 1-0 Pac10
1-0 CUSA
1-0 MAC
And some of the other 'big 6'
BIG 10:
1) 0-1 MWC
2) 1-0 ACC
1-0 MAC
3) 1-0 Bigeast
0-1 Pac10
1-0 WAC
4) 0-1 MAC

1) 0-1 SEC
0-1 WAC
2) 1-0 CUSA
1-1 MAC
3) 0-1 Big10
0-1 ACC
4) 1-0 Sunbelt

1) 1-0 big12
0-1 pac10
1-0 MAC
0-1 SEC
2) 0-1 big10
3) 1-0 bigeast
4) 1-0 big12

1) 0-1 ACC
1-0 Pac10
0-1 sunbelt
2) 1-0 MWC
1-0 CUSA
2-0 WAC
3) 1-0 Pac10
4) 0-1 ACC
*one late game vs MWC

And others
1) [East Carolina was home team in Charlotte]
2) 0-1 Bigeast
1-0 Sunbelt
0-1 Big12
3) 0-1 MWC
1-0 Sunbelt
4) 0-1 MWC
0-1 WAC

1) 0-1 SEC
1-0 Indep
1-0 Bigeast
0-1 ACC
2) 1-1 Bigeast
0-1 big10
3) 1-0 WAC
4) 1-0 Indep
1-0 Big10
0-1 WAC

1) 1-0 Big12
2) 0-1 CUSA
plus * nuetral LA-monroe arkansas game in arkansas
3) 0-1 CUSA
4) 0-1 Bigeast

If we rank conferences by total road victories over other conferences:
MWC 6-2
Big12 6-3
MAC 6-5
BIG10 4-3
ACC 4-3
SEC 3-0
WAC 3-4
CUSA 2-5
PAC10 2-6

So, ok, maybe the PAC-10 really is that bad, ranking between CUSA and sunbelt. But, notice that the SEC rarely leaves the comforts of home. The Louisville/Kentucky, South Carolina/Clemson and Florida/Florida State rivalries give at least one road trip per year (this year it is Kentucky and Carolina on the road.) Other than that, only Vanderbilt (at Miami of Ohio) and Georgia (at Arizona State) have played away games so far this year [with Clemson and Alabama playing at a nuetral site]. During the rest of the season only 2 non-conference away games remain, with Vanderbilt and Auburn hitting the road (along with the South Carolina-Clemson rivalry). Pac-10 also has two more road games, leaving the possibility that they could break out even with this metric. The mountain west has 5 more, big 12 has one more, and the MAC about 6 or 7. Chances are fairly high that MWC will get a couple additional road wins, thus besting the SEC. Even the Pac10 could potentially break even.

The SEC argues that their conference is the toughest. Yet, the non-conference schedule is filled with home games, with many from the sun belt and I-AA southern conference. Vanderbilt and Mississippi State are the only team with two non-conference road games. (And they also happen to be the two teams historically at the bottom of the standings.) Many of the teams (like LSU) don't even go on the road for nonconference games. At least Georgia traveled to Arizona State, and Tennessee to UCLA.

The Pac-10, at least is more willing to hit the road, with games this season at bowl teams Penn State, BYU, Utah, TCU, Virginia, New Mexico, Purdue, Maryland and Hawaii. The 2009 road schedule will include games at Boise State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Georgia and Tennessee.
The SEC this year has road games schedule against bowl teams UCLA, Arizona State, West Virginia, Wake Forest and Clemson. Despite having 2 more members than the Pac-10, they've scheduled half the number of road games against teams that went to bowls last year.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Left turn, right turn

As traffic engineers have tried to eliminate all driver 'decisions' at intersections, 'right turn on red' has become the curious exception. Try to actually remain stopped in the right lane at a red light, and you are likely to hear honks and screams. It is also not uncommon to see cars make the "right on red" and cross over multiple lanes of traffic to get in to a far left turn lane. On the other hand, "left turn on green" is all put eliminated on most intersections (replaced with a "left turn on green arrow only.") Both movements involve crossing a similar number of traffic lanes in a very similar decision.
The irony is that engineers expect drivers to violate a signal by turning against a red light. (Many intersections would become incredibly backed up if all drivers waited for the green light to turn right.) On the other hand, engineers cannot trust drivers to yield properly to other traffic when they do have a green light. I guess the logical solution would be to make all lights permanently red